With graduation season in full swing, millions of students will be heading to college this fall. Usually students pick a college based on the academic programs, tuition costs, location and sometimes the football team and the weekend (or weeknight) nightlife.
But more students may be adding another consideration to the mix: the school’s environmental conscience and carbon footprint. And that means a new generation of environmentally friendly workers.
This article posted on Mother Nature Network highlights the greenest colleges, which could give businesses a good pool of green workers.
According to the article: “Nearly 1,000 campuses are buying organic produce from two of the country’s biggest food suppliers, and many are taking away dining trays, saving a half-gallon of water and 30 percent food waste per student. The U.S. Green Building Council says 250 campus buildings have received its stamp of approval, a LEED certification, and another 1,600 are on the way. Wind and solar power generation is taking off; even high-tech projects like greywater reuse are finding a home on some campuses.”
Green campuses are located all over the United States, including North Carolina, Florida, Ohio and Colorado.
In California, green kudos went to the University of California at Santa Cruz for having the greenest cafeterias with its use of locally grown, organic food. Stanford University – praised for having the greenest alternative dining ware – is using utensils made of potato starch and composts the flatware along with salad bowls made from sugarcane.
With more students taking an interest in the environment, there’s sure to be a trickle down to companies that employ these students after graduation. So, give your new hires license to bring their green education to the office – you just might learn something.
Get some green inspiration from this report published by the Environmental Defense Fund, “Innovations Review 2009: Green Advances for a New Economy.” The EDF evaluated more than 200 green business practices for environmental benefits, business benefits, replicability and innovativeness. The top 15 innovations were selected for their potential to improve the planet – and the bottom line.
Cisco Systems, Coca-Cola, Google, Wal-Mart and Verizon are some of the companies highlighted in the report. For example, Google has focused on making its data centers more energy efficient by putting the management of all data centers under the leadership of one executive while also urging employees to consider the full lifecycle costs of purchases.
According to the Uptime Institute, a nonprofit association of data center professionals, Google’s move toward efficiency has saved the company at least $500 million in capital expenditures and $17 million in annual electricity costs. Guess, that’s not too bad.
Read the full report online and get some cost-saving ideas for your business.
[ 1 comment ] ( 7 views ) | [ 0 trackbacks ] | permalink | ( 3 / 1043 )
Blackbaud is a software company that primarily develops programs for nonprofit organizations, but also environmental, health care and educational institutions among others. The company has offices around the world, including in San Diego.
Known as Greenbaud, the employee-led group has 10 team leaders, including Brian Cook, the chief green officer (great title, by the way). Greenbaud is not a formal part of the company and doesn’t have a budget, but employees do their best to share their green message. They meet during lunch and try to make meetings flexible so the commitment is manageable, Cook said.
Cook has been the “chief greenie” for about a year (another great title). With a background as a project manager, he was a likely candidate to lead the group. And Cook has an interest in being green and protecting the environment, although he wouldn’t describe himself as a “liberal, treehugger,” he said.
In fact, that’s part of the perception he’s trying to change among employees at Blackbaud. A major focus of Greenbaud is education and helping employees see how even small changes in their homes and offices can have a big impact on the environment – they don’t have to turn into treehuggers.
At home, Cook is recycling and amazed at how much less trash his family generates. He’s trying to remember to carry his reusable bags into the grocery store and is switching out light bulbs to a more energy-efficient variety.
While Cook has a personal interest in exploring rainwater technology, water management and electricity generation, such as solar power, he stresses people don’t have to take on big, expensive or time-consuming green projects.
“I’m about being smart and often being smart and green are the same thing,” Cook said. “It’s being smart about the way you do things.”
Some of Greenbaud’s accomplishments include:
• Eliminating Styrofoam cups from the break rooms. Plus, the sale of Greenbaud coffee mugs benefited local Toys for Tots and Good Cheer Fund charities.
• The company’s Educational Services department reduced the page count for workbooks its uses and ships by almost 40 percent.
• Setting up battery collection bins in break rooms.
• Hosting two cell phone recycling drives.
• Working to increase the average building temperate to 76 degrees. Blackbaud's total electrical bill can range from $40,000 to $52,000 (highest in the summer, of course), so the change in temperature saves the company about 10 percent in the peak cooling summer months.
• Hosting educational field trips, guest speakers and a Green Fair.
• Participating in a local Adopt A Beach program.
• Maintaining a Greenbaud Web site accessible to all employees via the company intranet.
Cook said he looks at this list of accomplishments when he gets discouraged about Greenbaud’s slow progress. Much of the team’s work is trial and error, but Cook is persistent and sticks to the mission – even when employees don’t show the level of interest he anticipated or management isn’t quite as supportive as he had hoped.
Cook offered the following tips for other offices on the path to green:
• Get some early wins and focus on what is feasible, such as recycling or eliminating the Styrofoam cups.
• Find a way to make it fun for people so you can get them to participate. Cook pointed to the beach cleanup, which also serves as a fun team building exercise and a good way to recruit new members to the Greenbaud team.
• Have some team leads to share the responsibility. Particularly if employees are volunteering their time, it’s important to spread the work around.
• Be creative in your approach.
• Find a sponsor at the executive level who can support your team’s efforts.
So, this month, a big Green Thumbs Up to Greenbaud and the employees who are making a difference one green step at a time.
[ add comment ] ( 11 views ) | [ 0 trackbacks ] | permalink | ( 2.9 / 949 )
@greenoffice), we posed a question related to our Earth Day blog post about starting small in your green office efforts: What are three green initiatives you can tackle that won’t cost the company any money?
One of the responses was freecycling in the office. That was a great suggestion that got me thinking about ways to engage your co-workers in freecyling.
• Have a book, CD or DVD exchange. Bring in the ones you no longer want and trade them for “new” items. You have new DVDs to watch this weekend and you haven’t spent any money or put trash in the landfill.
• OK, ladies, this one is for you. Just about all of us have been (or will be) invited to a baby shower for a co-worker. What if everyone brought gently used baby items instead of new baby blankets, sleepers and tiny T-shirts. It’s a great way to show the mom-to-be you care about saving the world for a new generation of little ones.
• Gather some co-workers and host a weekend yard sale. Donate the money you make to a local environmental cause or use it to launch some green initiatives in your office, such as giving each employee a reusable shopping bag or coffee mug.
• For the parents in your office, organize a toy swap. Even the most interesting toy loses its appeal after a few weeks, so trade toys with another parent for a month. The kids have something new to play with, you haven’t spent any money, and when the kids get their own toys back next month, it will be like they got something new.
• The same toy swap concept can be applied to adults. Who hasn’t, at some point, used a piece of exercise equipment as a clothing rack or wondered what to do with those roller blades buried in the back of the closet? Trade equipment with a co-worker. Tired of your treadmill? Trade it for a co-worker’s exercise bike – you’re literally freecycling.
Our society tends to have a “throw away and buy new” mentality. Freecycling is a terrific way to reuse perfectly good items while reducing our carbon footprint (just think about the packaging trash you didn’t have to throw away because you got something used instead of something new).
Please share your ideas for how to freecycle in the office. We’d love to share – or in this case, freecycle – more suggestions.
I can’t remember the last time I used a phone book to look up a telephone number. Normally, I’m sitting at my computer, so I just pull up the Yellow Pages online. But recycling the phone books that come to your home or office takes extra work – you can’t just toss them in with the newspapers and office paper.
So, YellowPagesGoesGreen.org is a great way to eliminate the waste generated by the phone book. A college student in Missouri who was overwhelmed by the number of phone books delivered to his house started this movement. It’s a similar concept to the National No-Call Registry, allowing consumers to opt out of receiving a thick paper phone book.
According to the Web site, more than 500 million phone directories are printed each year. To produce those books, 19 million trees need to be harvested, 1.6 billion pounds of paper are used and 268,000 cubic yards of landfill are taken up with phone books.
Simply sign up (for free) at YellowPagesGoesGreen.org and the organization will contact the local telephone company with your name and address and tell them to stop delivering a phone book to you.
[ 1 comment ] ( 7 views ) | [ 0 trackbacks ] | permalink | ( 3 / 1719 )
Image courtesy / www.ecosherpa.com
Happy Earth Day! Today is the day we take a moment to appreciate all Mother Earth gives us and resolve to do a better job of returning the favor.
While so many of us have made incredible strides in our efforts to live a greener life, many of us have a long way to go. Individuals can certainly lead the way on this front, but businesses have an even bigger responsibility – and often a bigger platform – in which to encourage a green lifestyle.
Last week I had a conversation with a business owner about making his office more environmentally friendly. Many of the products he uses for his business are green, but the office itself needs some improvement on that front (no paper recycling, throw-away cups by the coffee pot).
While this business owner wasn’t opposed to bettering the environment, he questioned the finances – why pay someone to gather the recycling when it can be tossed in the trash? It’s a valid question for businesses concerned about the bottom line, particularly in our current economic climate.
The warm fuzzies of knowing you’re helping the environment doesn’t pay the bills so how best to convince companies to go green?
It starts with the employees. If your boss is hesitant to implement some green initiatives, show him or her why it makes sense. And, Earth Day is the perfect day to begin.
• Gather like-minded co-workers and form a green team. Have lunch together and plan your strategy.
• Start small. What are three green initiatives you can tackle that won’t cost the company any money? Those could include asking everyone to shut down the desktop computers at the end of the day to conserve energy. Ask your co-workers to bring a coffee mug from home instead of using the Styrofoam cups. Put a box near your desk for batteries, e-waste and other hard-to-recycle items and volunteer to take them to the nearest collection agency once a month.
• Track the savings. For example, figure out how much the company is saving when employees print fewer documents – it’s a savings of printer ink, paper costs and printer maintenance.
• Once you have a few months of results, schedule a meeting with your boss and present a proposal for a green office. Provide statistics and hard data to demonstrate that with a little upfront cost, the company could be saving money. And again, start small. Ask that a small amount of money be dedicated to green efforts. As your boss sees the benefits, the budget will most likely grow.
If you work for a small company where the boss’ office is just down the hall, this might be a little easier. But even if your company is large, you can take the same approach and start with the branch manager or department supervisor, who can help you work your way up the chain of command.
For inspiration, we give a Green Thumbs Up to The Center for Natural Dentistry in Encinitas, Calif., north of San Diego. The center is a holistic dental practice “integrating natural procedures with traditional science-based dentistry.”
This dental practice chose April to announce its green initiatives, which not only include use of low-wattage fluorescent lights and low-flow toilets, but a host of other environmentally friendly practices:
• Eco-friendly cleaning solutions.
• Reusable towels to reduce waste.
• On-site, energy-efficient laundry facility to reduce waste.
• Bio-hazard disposal policies to ensure toxic chemicals (such as mercury) don’t pollute the environment.
• Comprehensive Patient Protection Program to ensure mercury vapors don’t pollute the air or patients’ lungs.
• Paperless records to reduce paper consumption and waste.
Please share the ways in which you’ve initiated the green movement at your office. We’d love to hear your ideas.
[ add comment ] ( 4 views ) | [ 0 trackbacks ] | permalink | ( 3 / 1207 )
photos courtesy Port of San Diego
When it comes to implementing green policies and practices at your business or organization, much of the success depends on being flexible, open to change and willing to work with like-minded businesses. That’s a lesson from the Port of San Diego and its Green Port Program. The port achieved a number of its goals for the first year of the program, but was willing to adapt and partner.
The Green Port Program covers six areas: water, energy, air, waste management, sustainable development and sustainable business practices.
Kelly Makley, associate environmental specialist in the port’s Environmental Services Department, said the port intended to have a green purchasing policy in place by the end of 2008. “It was one of those things that was taking a lot longer than we thought, but it ended up being a good thing,” Makley said.
Working closely with the port’s Procurement Department, the goal was to assess and consider environmental impacts during the procurement process and make selections that would have the least detrimental impact on the environment. “We thought it would be easy,” Makley said. “We started working on it and realized how much it was going to change the way the Procurement Department does business.”
Rather than tossing out the whole idea, the port was flexible and decided to test its plan internally, trying out some products, such as recycled paper and toner cartridges as well as some hybrid vehicles. “We’ll take this year to test it out internally in the Procurement Department, so when we go to the (port) board at the end of 2009 or in early 2010, we’ll have the data to give them,” Makely said.
And then there are the surprise opportunities that make going green a truly worthy endeavor.
One of the Green Port Program’s most exciting initiatives, Makley said, was forming a partnership with San Diego Gas & Electric. The two signed a memorandum of understanding to work together on energy issues. The public utility company conducted an energy audit and created an Energy Road Map with recommendations for how to retrofit the port facility to make it more energy efficient.
SDG&E recommended about $120,000 of retrofits, including changing out light fixtures and using a Vending Miser, a product that manages power usage of a vending machine by monitoring temperature changes and whether someone is in the same room. Modifications to outdoor lighting and the some use of solar panels also were on the list of recommendations.
The best part is SDG&E offers loans to fund these retrofits. For example, Makley explained, SDG&E would loan the port $1,000 for a new energy-efficient light fixture. The savings on the port’s energy bill goes back to SDE&G to repay the loan. Once the loan is repaid, the port will start seeing that savings on its bill.
“SDG&E is interested in working with public entities,” Makley said. “SDG&E has to increase its renewable energy use, so it’s trying to be proactive and work with people like us to be more efficient.”
The port also partnered up with Nissan and SDG&E to showcase Nissan’s new line of electric cars. The port hosted a news conference on its Broadway Pier earlier this month and community leaders took the vehicles for a spin. San Diego is one of the first markets to try out the new electric vehicles. And Makley said she expects the port will test a couple. By adding 13 hybrids to its fleet last year, the port has saved 550 gallons of fuel.
In your company’s efforts to go green, what surprise encounters have you had? Did you partner with another business or organization to achieve your green efforts?
[ add comment ] ( 1 view ) | [ 0 trackbacks ] | permalink | ( 3 / 1101 )